Adaptive tools and training can restore activities like reading the daily paper.
Have you ever taken time to consider the ways your vision loss could impact your daily activities at home?
Think about how you would reply to these questions:
- Do you feel your house is accessible and functional to meet your needs for independence?
- Do you have difficulties reading the mail, newspaper, or your favorite book?
- Could you use new ideas for preparing meals safely?
If any of your answers have you feeling concerned, you may benefit from the services of a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist.
Awareness about vision rehabilitation is often limited for people who are experiencing vision loss as well as eye care professionals and other health care providers. But learning about these services can create an opportunity to improve your health outcomes and quality of life.
What Is Vision Rehabilitation?
Vision rehabilitation services teach and guide people as they learn new ways of accomplishing daily living skills after experiencing vision loss. Services facilitate greater independence and an improved quality of life.
The importance of adjusting to vision loss means discovering new visual and nonvisual ways to accomplish your tasks. A clinic visit to a vision rehabilitation specialist can provide some of the essential tools like a magnifier, bright light, talking books or bump dots.
A home-based appointment includes analyzing the impact of vision loss on your daily activities and finding solutions, together. Working with a vision rehabilitation specialist, you’ll be able to create an individualized plan that includes new approaches to your everyday tasks, using adaptive skills and assistive devices to support independence, and modifying your environmental to ensure safety in all areas of your home.
When Betty Rackow started to lose her vision, she wanted to enhance any use of her residual vision. The Monroe woman contacted the Council where she learned about vision rehabilitation resources and arranged an in-home visit. Our specialist understood Rackow’s goals and brought the necessary equipment to her house.
“Baking and cooking had become more of a challenge,” Rackow says. “I wanted to keep using these abilities along with being able to do any other tasks around the house.”
A simple, but effective solution in this situation was to install bump dots on the oven controls to provide tactile input to compensate for her limited vision.
One-on-One Support in Your Home
Vision rehabilitation can improve other functional abilities for people with visual impairments. For Rackow, a personal home visit also meant she received additional information and tools needed to remain independent in the familiar surroundings of her home.
During an in-home visit, a specialist will look for opportunities to improve the layout of your living quarters along with the functional and safety components of cooking, cleaning, medication management, technology access and leisure activities unique to each person’s environment. Vision rehabilitation specialists can also assess potential tripping and falling hazards to maintain your health and quality of life while aging in place.
These visits allow for important one-on-one conversations, too. A vision rehabilitation specialist can connect you to resources within your community, for example, transit options and support groups. Specialists will also teach you important skills to advocate for yourself or show you how to ask for support to get the necessary accommodations you may need.
Adjusting to your vision loss can often occur within your social network of family or friends and it’s important to have a family member or caregiver with you during a home visit. Information overload can be reduced and recall of critical instructions or recommendations improved with someone by your side. Plus, the familiarity of meeting in your own home often means a much more relaxed learning environment.
Follow-up reviews support the importance of in-home appointments. Comments include, “My in-home appointment eliminated any anxiety associated with arranging transportation as we talked about ways I could give back to a neighbor who drives me to appointments,” and “I don’t drive any longer, so having someone meet me where I’m at is ideal for my situation.”
Home Visits are Personalized for Your Needs
What can be accomplished during an in-home appointment varies depending on your specific needs. For example, if you are a person who is dealing with a constricted visual field, such as that associated with glaucoma, the central field of vision might be small. Recommendations could include enhanced contrast and bold text that fits within the central vision.
If you are working through some communication barriers, a specialist may suggest easy-to-use cell phone or smart assistant applications. But those aren’t the only options. A vision rehab specialist can explain how a large print keyboard, text-to-speech, magnification software or audio-screen reader may work best for you.
Rackow appreciated the chance to learn about the various tools and equipment and being able to ask questions during her in-home visit. She’s now recommending this service to her neighbors and friends.
“If you are considering an in-home appointment, go for it,” Rackow says. “You will be provided with simple and easy recommendations to help with your everyday tasks.”
To inquire about a home visit from the Council’s Vision Services team fill out the form on our website. You can also call 608-255-1166 to talk to a vision services specialist.
If you live outside south central Wisconsin, the Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI) has regional vision rehabilitation specialists that cover every county throughout the state. They can work one-on-one to understand your vision function and help you achieve your goals and ultimately your independence. Find information for your specific area on the OBVI website.
You can also call OBVI directly at this toll-free number 1-888-879-0017.